Life & Style | Health

Clearing the air about dandruff

The trick lies in controlling the condition rather than struggling to cure it

  • By Shahana Raza
Special to The weekend tabloid!
  • Published: 17:00 August 17, 2012
  • Tabloid on Saturday

  • Image Credit: Getty Images/Hemera
  • Dandruff issue on mans sholder

The battle with dandruff is almost always constant.

A common scalp condition caused by the Malassezia globosa fungus, dandruff is itchy, unsightly and deals a death blow to self-esteem. Interestingly, not everyone suffers the condition, though Malassezia (a kind of yeast) is found naturally on human skin. And that’s because in some cases the fungi goes into overdrive and produces flakes faster.

Besides the obvious triggers such as excessive sunlight, air pollutants and excess usage of styling products, diet plays a significant role in exacerbating the development of dandruff, informs Mike Ryan, brand expert for CLEAR Arabia, who is the region’s only Board Certified trichologist. Ryan’s effective advice: “If you have been using anti-dandruff shampoos and dandruff persists for more than six weeks, visit your trichologist, who can refer you to a dermatologist based on the severity of your condition.

A trichologist is a person who has studied for three years the disorders and diseases of the hair (including body hair) and scalp. A dermatologist specialises in skin diseases and disorders in particular. The hair is an appendage of the skin and is given very little attention in the studies undertaken by a dermatologist.

You say stress, diet, poor hygiene and high intakes of sugar/fats, prolonged exposure to sunlight, and overuse of hair-care products cause dandruff, which of these is the worst in your opinion?

There is no worst; all these conditions have their own difficulties. Diet, however, often plays a large role in the development of dandruff as there seems to be a positive link between yeast and the fungus. High-fat and sugar diets lead to more production of sebum on the scalp, which the microbes in dandruff feed off.

Can the type of water used to wash one’s hair affect dandruff formation?

Very unlikely. However, water in Middle Eastern countries can have a drying effect on the scalp, which could lead to a flaky, dry condition which would look and feel like dandruff.

What about humidity and dust? How far do they influence the formation of dandruff?

Dust or particulate soil from environment, sweat and excess scalp sebum (from sebaceous glands) make the scalp greasy and not only stay on the scalp surface but are also trapped in the microscopic breaks in the scalp, Stratum Corneum. The primary function of surfactant in a shampoo is to remove excess oil which is sebum, particulate soil and dust particles. Humidity can cause the scalp to perspire more, thus sticking the desquamated skin cells to the scalp, forming a dandruff-like condition. Dandruff is not a dry condition — it derives from a greasy scalp.

Should people with dandruff shampoo more often?

When the scalp becomes unhealthy, it shows in the hair. Dryness, dandruff, irritation, spots, inflammation, lank, greasy hair, hair loss and much more can all be symptoms of an unhealthy scalp. Improving the health of your scalp leads to enormous improvements, not just to the scalp itself but also to the quality and condition of your hair and its ability to grow. Shampoo has a direct chemical effect on the yeast, but it grows back, so you need to control the condition, rather than cure it. The medications that will control this condition are shampoos, such as Clear, that have an active ingredient — activated charcoal, mint, Pro-Nutrium. It is important to treat the underlying cause, otherwise the scales will return quickly.

How does coal help with treating dandruff?

Activated charcoal contains a deep-cleaning action due to the fact that activated charcoal has a very large surface area combined with fantastic absorption properties. Therefore it removes more of the deposits from the scalp, leaving the hair and scalp feeling fresher for longer.

Is it recommended for people with eczema and scalp psoriasis as well?

Dandruff is eczema. It is the mildest form of Seborrhoeic eczema. However, psoriasis can be a debilitating condition and I would advise getting it checked out by a trichologist first. Psoriasis is often misdiagnosed as dandruff.

What makes Clear different from the rest? Is it a medicated shampoo?

Clear has a unique formulation which controls the level of micro-organisms on the scalp but which also has a calming and soothing effect on the irritated scalp tissues. The more sophisticated antimicrobials control the level of micro-organisms on the scalp.

Medicated shampoos are a thing of the past; they used to smell clinical and were quite harsh on coloured hair, in some cases stripping the colour. Clear contains innovative ingredients that have a therapeutic effect on the scalp. Together, these ingredients stop the itching and tenderness and improve the health of the scalp and optimise conditions for improved hair growth.

— Shahana Raza is a UAE-based freelance writer

Fact Box


Mike Ryan suggests these simple remedies

• Treating scalp topically with a hair rinse containing loose-leaf rosemary and tea-tree oil may help. Rosemary contains antifungal essential oils and tea-tree oil has been shown to have antifungal properties.

• Topical aloe-vera gel also helps in reducing or eliminating dandruff due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Apply it topically at night and rinse in the morning.

• Anti-itch creams such as shea butter and canola oil can also help.


When should a person see a trichologist and when a dermatologist?

With any hair loss, hair disorder, scalp disease or disorder, if the problem is the skin or related to other parts of the body, the trichologist would refer the patient to a dermatologist. The relationship between the two disciplines is symbiotic.

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